The summer of 2015 has been a hot one here in western Oregon. At Guaranty RV, we’ve had record high temperatures, and of course that makes us want to find a shady campsite and kick back under our RV awning with a glass of something cold. There’s still time before school starts for one more epic camping trip, and we can’t think of a better opportunity to check out one of Oregon’s 196 state parks. We mentioned a couple of our favorites in our blog Visit the Seven Wonders of Oregon in your RV, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t share with you some of the other state parks that are particularly great for RVers. Whether you’re trying to decide where to go for that last Summer 2015 camping trip, or you’re thinking ahead to next year, we’ve got some state park recommendations that you’re going to love.
Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls State Park is called the Crown Jewel of the Oregon State Parks System for good reason. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s, it is the largest state park in Oregon (it encompasses 9,200 acres), and offers a wealth of recreational opportunities. For a moderate hike, take the Trail of Ten Falls through the forest to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the nation. The path takes you behind the famous South Falls, so you’ll get a view of a waterfall that few people ever see. If you want a more strenuous hike or you want to get further off the beaten path, Silver Falls State Park has more than 25 miles of backcountry trails that are suitable for hiking, biking and horseback riding. If you’d rather just relax, or stage an all-family football game, check out the South Falls Day-use area for game-worthy lawns, barbecue stands, a playground, horseshoe pits, picnic shelters and a creek. And if it’s hot, there are plenty of places to take a swim. This serene, beautiful campground has it all, and it’s only 25 miles east of Salem so it’s an easy drive from Interstate 5. It’s also located in the heart of wine country, so you’ll be ideally situated to visit some of the best wineries in the state.
For RVers: Silver Falls State Park has 52 back-in RV sites with 50 amp full hookups. The sites range between 40 and 84 feet, and some are open all year (maximum site 60 feet). If you’re travelling with someone with physical disabilities, there are two ADA Standard campsites available. Specific site details and the maximum RV length can be seen by clicking on the campsite on the reservation website: Reserve America. Reservations must be made at least one day ahead of arrival. There are hot showers and clean restrooms available, so you won’t have to rely on your RV shower. The RV dump station is located at the North Falls group camp, which is three miles from the main campground.
Ainsworth State Park
If you’re looking for a waterfall wonderland and a hiker’s paradise, you’ll want to be in the Columbia River Gorge, and Ainsworth State Park is a perfect spot to make your home base while you explore the scenic wonders of the area. Located conveniently off of I-84, this small park puts you in the heart of a nature-lover’s dream. The Columbia River Gorge has the greatest concentration of high waterfalls in the world, including the famous Multnomah Falls. The area also features some of the most breathtakingly beautiful hikes you’ll ever experience. Take the Nesmith Point Trail from the park to get an amazing view of St. Peter’s Dome, a stunning basalt pinnacle that towers 2000 feet over the Columbia River. If you’re travelling with people who don’t hike, check out the accessible scenic overlook for a less strenuous way to appreciate the beauty of the Gorge. If you’re into fish and fishing, take a tour of one of the local hatcheries, and there is also an accessible fishing dock at the park, so be sure to bring your poles. If you’re interested in learning more about the area, you can head over to the amphitheater to catch one of the interesting interpretive programs. And when it gets hot, you’ll be thankful for the creek at the east end of the park.
For RVers: Ainsworth State Park has over 40 full-hookup sites that range in size from a 32-foot back-in site to an 83-foot pull-through. The park offers clean restrooms and hot showers, so you don’t have to haul the extra water, and there is an RV dump station at the campground. There is one ADA Standard site. Look online at Reserve America to see specific details about maximum RV length for the campsite you want.
Farewell Bend State Recreation Area
Whether you’re into interesting history, outdoor games or boating, Farewell Bend State Recreation Area is the place to be. Located near the Oregon/Idaho border on the banks of the Snake River’s Brownlee Reservoir, this state park has everything to keep the whole family happy. If you love learning about history, Farewell Bend is the place travellers on the Oregon Trail stopped to rest and get one last look at the river before they made their way inland to Oregon City. You can learn more about this from the historic markers and interpretive displays in the campground. The park also provides evening interpretive programs between Memorial Day and Labor Day. To get a fuller understanding of what those early pioneers experienced, take a day trip to the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City, and check out the wagon ruts that are still visible not far from the campground. Once you’ve gotten your fill of Oregon Trail history, head to Brownlee Reservoir to swim, ski and fish. The boat ramp is lighted and fully accessible. There are also horseshoe pits, a sand volleyball court and basketball hoops, so plan to get a family game together.
For RVers: Farewell Bend State Recreation Area has over 70 RV sites with 50-amp hookups. There is one ADA Standard campsite. The sites range in size from a 30-foot back-in site to a 90-foot pull-through. Hot showers and flush toilets are available, and there is an RV dump station. Reservations are recommended during the summer, but campsites are first come first served October through April. You can get specific site details and maximum RV length for the campsites at the Reserve America website.
Valley of the Rogue State Park
If you love river rafting and whitewater sports, you already know about the Rogue River; it has
some of the best whitewater rafting in the nation. Even if you’re not into river rafting, Oregon’s Rogue Valley has so much to do that you could easily spend days on end exploring its wonders. The Valley of the Rogue State Park is your perfect home base to take it all in. The campground stretches along three miles of the river. Take the easy 1.25-mile interpretive trail to find out more about the geology and geography of the area. If you’re looking for a more serious hike, you’ll find exactly what you want on the 40-mile Rogue River National Recreation Trail. If it’s too hot for hiking, you can spend your days in the river or head out on day trips to Crater Lake National Park, the Oregon Caves National Monument, Ashland’s Shakespeare Festival, historic Jacksonville, the Britt Music Festival, and more. You’ll never be without something to do in the Rogue Valley.
For RVers: Valley of the Rogue State Park offers 95 full hookup sites and 55 sites with 50-amp hookups. There are flush toilets, hot showers, laundry facilities and an RV dump station on site. Campsite E7 is accessible to RVers with disabilities (40-foot back-in site). Campsites range in size from a 36-foot back-in campsite to a big 100-foot pull-through. You’ll find more details about specific campsites on the Reserve America reservations page.
Humbug Mountain State Park
Humbug Mountain State Park is situated in Humbug Canyon on the Oregon Coast. Ideally suited for camping, this park is tucked into the canyon in such a way that it is blocked from much of the chilly wind that is normally associated with Oregon’s coastal campgrounds. This lovely campground gives you easy access to a three-mile hiking trail through an old growth forest that tops out on the summit of Humbug Mountain, 1,756 feet above sea level. But it’s perfect location means you’ll also be in close proximity to the beach and ideal scuba diving and windsurfing spots. Love to fish? You’ll have your choice between saltwater and freshwater, so you can bring in everything from trout and smelt to halibut, salmon and cod. Take a tour of the historic Coast Guard Lifeboat Museum, a pioneer dairy ranch, or the oldest standing lighthouse on the Oregon Coast; all are an easy day trip away. If you want a true sense of the Pacific Northwest with its old growth forests and amazing coastline, spend a few days at this gem of a park.
For RVers: Humbug Mountain State Park has 33 RV sites with 50-amp hookups. Two of these sites are ADA Standard sites. Campsites range in size from a 35-foot back-in to a 96-foot pull-through. You will have access to hot showers and flush toilets, and there is a dump station at the park. Go to the Reserve America reservations page for more specific information on campsites.
Obviously these five parks are only a few of the 196 amazing state parks Oregon has to offer. We chose these because they’re RV-friendly and they represent the wide range of landscape that our state is famous for, from the deserts of Eastern Oregon, to the old growth forests, to the coast. As you get out and explore our state parks, please remember to protect the Pacific Northwest from invasive species by purchasing your firewood at or near your campground. Firewood can carry diseases and insects that threaten our forested campgrounds, so please buy and burn your firewood locally.
We hope you have a great end of summer camping trip on the horizon. If you need RV service or if you have any questions, be sure to contact us. We look forward to hearing about your camping adventures.
Photo: Bureau of Land Management of Oregon and Washington